The Scary Mzungu & Optional English

Today was so much fun! Honestly, today will be one of the highlights of our trip for me. This morning Braydan and I headed out for the Maramba Clinic, escorted by Benny for the drop off, in the city of Maramba. The first thing I noticed was that this clinic was definitely larger than the Linda Clinic, and there seemed to be staff buzzing about everywhere. Once the nurses were ready for us, they split us up, one to take vitals for incoming patients and the other to help with baby wellness check ups. Naturally, I gravitated towards the chubby cheeked babies 🙂

I had been warned that the babies would likely freak out and cry or scream when they saw me because I am a Mzungu (white person), and they’re young enough that I’m likely the first Mzungu they’ve ever seen. At first I was skeptical of this, as the first baby I met with was super curious about me and kept reaching his tiny little hand out for me to touch it. But after that, I quickly saw what everyone had been talking about. Granted, most of the children had to be awoken in order to do their wellness check, so I think the crying reaction is pretty normal regardless of the skin color of the person doing the measurements. That being said, these were some of the cutest babies I’d ever seen! Their big brown eyes, mocha colored skin, and chubby little cheeks just made my heart melt. I coo’ed at them the entire time, which most of the mothers found pretty entertaining.

Measurements included taking their weight in a fabric swing type of holder that was hanging from a weight similar to the ones used at grocery stores to hang fruit. As can be imagined based on the picture of the contraption below, getting the babies in and out was nothing short of a struggle, but this was apparently common enough that moms would just lift their baby by one arm to wriggle it out most of the time. The next step was measuring the child’s length with a flat board that we laid them down on and adjusted the measurement platform to measure them from their heads down to their feet, which we stretched out to press against a vertical, flat piece of wood at the bottom of the board. Basically, it looked like a sideways L with and adjustable piece at the long end. Again, the babies weren’t thrilled with this either.

After the weighing and measuring, which was what I helped with specifically, the mothers took the measurements to one of the lead nurses who marked the measurements down on the clinics records and ave them a nutritional update about their child, whether they were underweight, normal, or overweight for their age and height. After that, the lead nurse and a couple of student nurses gave the babies their age appropriate vaccinations. Overall, we had a pretty good system going.

One thing I was super impressed with was that the mothers carry their babies around on their backs using a long section of fabric that they tie with one end crossing the top of one shoulder and the other end crossing under their other arm to tie in front of the chest. It was fascinating to watch them lean over, balance their baby on their back, and then tie the child onto them. Oh! Another little tidbit that I learned about the women of Zambia is that 1) they all give birth (at least in Livingstone) naturally because there aren’t epidural options, and 2) when they give birth, they are expected to remain absolutely silent with the threat of getting a beating if they cry out or make a sound. So basically, these women are hardcore. #zambianwomenaretherealMVPs

After we finished up at the clinic and had a quick lunch, a group of us volunteers, some medical and some not, traveled with Benny to the one of the community sports fields for Girls Rugby Club. There we met with a gentleman named Chisa that usually works with the Holiday Club volunteers to play sports with the kids. The rugby club was started by African Impact to help the girls build skills of discipline, endurance, and teamwork. When we arrived, there were only a handful of girls, one of which I recognized from Reading Club two days prior; along with the girls was a whole hoard of boys. With Chisa’s approval, the boys were invited to play rugby with us and the girls.

To preface, I’ve never played rugby a day in my life. My only experience with rugby is that the first boy I held hands with was a rugby player. So yeah, not much experience here. However, for the majority of the hour and a half that we played with them, we focused on passing drills, ball movement, defending, and passing in teams. While one of the club rules is that English is supposed to be spoken at all times in order to prevent coaches from missing if a child is bullying others in Nyangan, that rule pretty much became optional. So that was fun haha Also, as a caveat, this was touch rugby, not tackle rugby, so the kids weren’t diving on top of each other. That would’ve been a mess for sure. The kids had so much energy, it was insane! At the end, we handed out peanut butter sandwiches and juice to the girls, and whatever leftovers we had went to the boys that had played with us.

Once we got back, all of the new volunteers listened to a presentation about African Impact’s partner organization, African Impact Foundation. Basically, the presenters talked about the projects we’ve been working on, how they started from needs that weren’t being met in the community, and the current projects that are being worked on with funds and grants donated to the program. So if you are interested in donating to projects such as building a new Linda clinic with more beds, ventilation, and equipment to treat many of the cases that are currently being sent to the hospital that services over eight districts and is overcrowded always, then let me know! There are also smaller options like sponsoring a child’s schooling for a year, which is honestly less than my monthly grocery bill for sponsoring a child in grades 1-6. And that’s for a whole year! Again, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, please please PLEASE let me know and I’ll put you in contact with the right people!

Anyway, that’s it for the night. We found out a little bit ago that washing machines are true blessings, and I will never take mine for granted again. And in other news, and forearms are going to look like a baker’s when I get back from wringing water out of every article of laundry I own multiple times a week lol Until tomorrow, ¡adios!

-Gabrielle Bezzant

Author: Gabrielle Bezzant

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